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The date was Dec. 27, 2008. The venue was the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event was UFC 92: "The Ultimate 2008" and it featured a match-up of Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 coaches, who would fight for the Interim heavyweight championship.
The two had plenty of time and opportunity to hype their fight, what with their being rival coaches on a reality show. Mir spoke of an improved stand-up game that he would use to avoid Nogueira's deadly submissions. In fact, he promised to become the first man to knock the Brazilian out, he of the legendary chin who had never had it cracked.
"Minotauro" was going to do what he always does; take a beating to give one and while he may get in trouble early, he would eventually emerge victorious.
But as the fight drew closer and closer, there were rumblings that something wasn't quite right with the champion.
By the time fight night came, the pre-fight hoopla no longer mattered. It was time to settle up inside the cage and forget about all that.
Except it was impossible to ignore what was so painfully obvious. Something was wrong with Nogueira. He looked slightly off and sense of timing was nonexistent. He was slow. Not that "Big Nog" has ever been known for his speed, but it was like he was moving in slow motion.
Mir took advantage, too, by overwhelming his opponent. In fact, there has never been a time Mir has looked any better. He dominated straight from the start, knocking Nogueira down several times before finally finishing him off in the second frame.
He barely broke a sweat.
Because it was impossible to ignore how uncharacteristically bad his performance was, questions were immediately asked of Nogueira. What was wrong? How could this fight have gone the way it did and been that uncompetitive?
And that's when it came out that Nogueira had been suffering from staph infection leading up to the bout. So bad was it, that "Minotauro" spent time in the hospital recovering. All this while Mir was training and getting stronger.
Once he heard this, Mir was enraged. After all, he had just put in the performance of his life against a legend of the sport, a man he idolized and looked up to. Now that same man is throwing dirt on his triumph, claiming he defeated a sick and weakened man.
Claiming he wasn't the better man.
Nogueira eventually relented and admitted that Mir was the better man. That night, at least. But he doesn't believe he's the better man overall and tonight, when he steps back inside the Octagon with Mir at UFC 140 in Toronto, he's going to prove it.
For his part, Mir wants to win even more impressively than he did last time. He's got something to prove as well. That the first fight wasn't a fluke and he didn't win because Nogueira was sick but because he's a better fighter.
This is the rematch. Time to settle up.